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4 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

I agree, dialogue with professionals and the volunteers is an absolute must.  But have we seen any movement in that direction?  Especially by the pros?  We've got multiple examples right here on the forums of pros not listening to the unit level leaders.

Given the crisis at hand (and I don't think I'm overstating the case by calling it such), I'd thought there would be a concerted effort to rally everybody, display at least a little transparency, cut some costs where needed.  I haven't seen or heard anything aside from boilerplate PR messages.

I believe in the professional scouter corps.  One of my favorite mentors was a DE who also served as waterfront director where I staffed as a youth.  He was both professional and personal, honest, and displayed respect for all, from the newest Tenderfoot to the most seasoned scoutmaster.

What we don't need are the bloated committees (hey districts, you need four different membership chairs now!), bean counting everything (quantity over quality) and much of the mile wide/inch deep stuff that has permeated the BSA.  Yes, there is a necessary corporate aspect to scouting.  Always has been and it is still needed.  But it has lost touch with its customer base and its best selling product.  That to me is the single biggest issue I have with the culture of professional scouting in the BSA.  Individually, I've met many a great pro.  Others...not so much.  They have other priorities.

 

I think we're about 95% in agreement here.  

  • Yes - pros & volunteers alike need to be talking
  • Yes - we need fewer bloated committees
  • Yes - we really can get rid of much of the "corporate" scouting

I think I've said this before in other topics.  But, one of the best things for Scouting would be for our volunteers to assume more ownership for what is happening in their community.  

  • If you're pack isn't growing - then figure out why
  • If you district doesn't have a camporee - then start one
  • If you feel dis-empowered by the professionals, then buy them a cup of coffee and become friends.
My suspicion is that the volunteer function in the BSA has so atrophied that people who are putting in 40 hours a week are just by virtue of the fact that they are there so much as assuming control of many functions.  I don't think it's even deliberate.  Unfortunately as it's been this way for 20 years (or more), we have a whole generation of professionals and volunteers who don't quite know how to relate to each other. 

@Eagle94-A1 - you and I have exchanged enough comments that I understand your plight.  I guess all I can say is that if one's district is so far gone where the basic volunteer functions are not working, then you've got to start somewhere.  It will take some time for the professionals to come around, but in most cases I think they will.  After all, it's in their best interest for there to be a strong volunteer team. You 

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5 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I think I've said this before in other topics.  But, one of the best things for Scouting would be for our volunteers to assume more ownership for what is happening in their community.  

  • If you're pack isn't growing - then figure out why
  • If you district doesn't have a camporee - then start one
  • If you feel dis-empowered by the professionals, then buy them a cup of coffee and become friends.

 

Parkman, we are indeed doing these things.  But there are only so many hours in the day, very few volunteers to do the work, a limited amount of dollars (most of out of own pocket), and a finite amount of patience. 

We have the training, experience, vision and grit.  Our bona fides are right up there with everyone else's. 

There comes a point where one remembers the tale of Three Legged Pig:  "A pig this nice, you don't eat all at once."  :)

 

 

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2 hours ago, malraux said:

Trying to set standards for activities for all kids k-5 is really tough.

It's not just setting standards, it's repeating the same stuff over and over again with only slight yearly growth.  

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48 minutes ago, MattR said:

... Now, if my kids were younger .... One idea I've thought of, the BSA has a great handbook, so why not just use that? Just do the program and don't join. ...

A neighbor kid of mine collected handbooks and did just that. I'd see him and his "patrol" on some trails in our community's park.

42 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

As a young, single adult, I'd get my social life back. Spend more weekends at the range, doing my own camping trips. No more weeknights at Scouting stuff. (3 nights this week). Maybe at some point if my church had an outdoors ministry, I'd help with that. This may happen to me regardless of what happens with the BSA's solvency. 

@Sentinel947, your church's and mine ... someplace between here and Hogtown. The coffee will be strong and hot.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Since my kids are long gone, I'd do more in my wood shop. That's happening anyway. Yes, tools are expensive but they'd be mine.

Now, if my kids were younger .... One idea I've thought of, the BSA has a great handbook, so why not just use that? Just do the program and don't join. It's not just $50 to national I'd save, we also have a $200 tax to council. Every camporee now has a 35% tax for council as well. Uniforms could also be simplified. The tradeoffs are: no official eagle scouts and no help with summer camps, camporees, MB counselors, or HA trips. While that puts more pressure on the units I'm thinking that could be a good thing if the scouts are encouraged to own more of this. My troop used to do most of this anyway (except the part about getting the scouts to own more).

Who knows, if enough troops joined Rogue Scouts the BSA might get some needed competition and bring everyone back into the fold.

We have talked about that a bit locally.

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1 hour ago, desertrat77 said:

Parkman, we are indeed doing these things.  But there are only so many hours in the day, very few volunteers to do the work, a limited amount of dollars (most of out of own pocket), and a finite amount of patience. 

We have the training, experience, vision and grit.  Our bona fides are right up there with everyone else's. 

There comes a point where one remembers the tale of Three Legged Pig:  "A pig this nice, you don't eat all at once."  :)

 

 

Seems like this is the struggle though.  Topics like this continually blame the BSA & professionals.  Yet, they are the ones most actively pushing growth & membership.  If we don't want to cede our roles to them, it seems me need to assert control of our own destinies.

I suppose we could just back off all this talk of membership growth, scale way back on professionals,  reduce Cub Scouts to three years, merge councils down to a few mega councils per state, and then keep only those camps that are needed.  I'd be fine with that myself.  However, I don't think it would address the root problem.

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2 hours ago, desertrat77 said:

Yes, there is a necessary corporate aspect to scouting. 

But how large does national need to be?  I bet we could improve the program by cutting Irving down to 20 people:

  • 1 Boss to be in charge.  SE
  • 1 lawyer.
  • 4 people to keep the lawyer out of the way and in his closet.
  • 2 folks to direct updating the BSH every 5 years and merit badge pamphlets as needed.  (Direct: as in soliciting informed volunteers to get together and provide experienced input from boots on the ground.)
  • 1 person in charge of Philmont
  • 1 person in charge of Seabase
  • 1 person in charge of Northern Tier.
  • 1 person in charge of renting out Summit.
  • 1 person helping the less famous HA venues.
  • 2 people ordering uniforms and badges for the Scout Shops.
  • 1 person to refer fund raising offers/donations to the appropriate local councils/ districts.
  • 1 person to answer the phone and forward eMails.
  • 1 ombudsman to make sure that every BSA decision is aimed at getting boys/girls into the Outdoors to experience Nature.
  • 1 expert to answer local questions and augment real world experience into National best practice.
  • 1 person to sweep, empty the trash, and turn out the lights.

Fee increase?  Shucks; we can reduce fees and deliver an better program.

And have fewer assets for money grubbing lawyers to target...

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

Seems like this is the struggle though.  Topics like this continually blame the BSA & professionals.  Yet, they are the ones most actively pushing growth & membership.  If we don't want to cede our roles to them, it seems me need to assert control of our own destinies.

I suppose we could just back off all this talk of membership growth, scale way back on professionals,  reduce Cub Scouts to three years, merge councils down to a few mega councils per state, and then keep only those camps that are needed.  I'd be fine with that myself.  However, I don't think it would address the root problem.

You're right, it wouldn't solve much.

I am in no way suggesting the pros control our units.   Unit leaders definitely can chart their own course.

Edited:  Deleted dead-horse commentary.

Edited by desertrat77

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9 minutes ago, JoeBob said:

But how large does national need to be?  I bet we could improve the program by cutting Irving down to 20 people:

  • 1 Boss to be in charge.  SE
  • 1 lawyer.
  • 4 people to keep the lawyer out of the way and in his closet.
  • 2 folks to direct updating the BSH every 5 years and merit badge pamphlets as needed.  (Direct: as in soliciting informed volunteers to get together and provide experienced input from boots on the ground.)
  • 1 person in charge of Philmont
  • 1 person in charge of Seabase
  • 1 person in charge of Northern Tier.
  • 1 person in charge of renting out Summit.
  • 1 person helping the less famous HA venues.
  • 2 people ordering uniforms and badges for the Scout Shops.
  • 1 person to refer fund raising offers/donations to the appropriate local councils/ districts.
  • 1 person to answer the phone and forward eMails.
  • 1 ombudsman to make sure that every BSA decision is aimed at getting boys/girls into the Outdoors to experience Nature.
  • 1 expert to answer local questions and augment real world experience into National best practice.
  • 1 person to sweep, empty the trash, and turn out the lights.

Fee increase?  Shucks; we can reduce fees and deliver an better program.

And have fewer assets for money grubbing lawyers to target...

Spot on, JoeBob. 

Never have so many people in the BSA been on the payroll...and never have things been so inefficient.

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I do not agree with the overall negative tenor of comments in this posting.  We are in the process of working out our financial, liability, program and membership fails.  We have changed more in the last few years than the last couple of decades -- and for the better in my view.  We are no longer a cultural punching bag.  We are indeed limiting our future liability by tightening-up things and will soon deal with the liability of the Youth Protection fails through the bankruptcy.  Our over-reliance on a particular national chartering organization is being replaced by a more-balanced membership effort, including girls.  In our council of 13,000 Scouts BSA members, 800 are now girls -- in 75 Troops. That will swell over the next few years as the Troops naturally grow and more troops are added.  The program works for girls as-is  I am a Scoutmaster of a new 30-girl Troop and know that first-hand.  Program?  The BSA now has Al Lambert in charge of the bases and program -- he is about the finest outdoor programmer we could ever want at the very top.  I'm not some Pollyanna either.  I have all the top awards as a youth and served simultaneously in council and national roles for 30 years.  I have indeed been in the dark valley and we are no longer in it.  We are climbing out to a new and better circumstance and many of the commenters here are just blind to it.  If you want to go off and be all alone in the woods with a few kids to have fun, then go do it.  I will be with the BSA and that is where we will continue to serve millions of Scouts.

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@Cburkhardt, I appreciate and respect your perspective.  There have been some positive steps recently.  However, I'm interested in your comment that we're in the process of "working out our financial, liability, program and membership fails."  Maybe I missed something but I haven't seen much of anything lately, from a strategic level, that addresses these issues.  Could you please provide some details or steer me to a source?  Thanks!

Edited by desertrat77

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37 minutes ago, JoeBob said:

But how large does national need to be?  I bet we could improve the program by cutting Irving down to 20 people:

  • 1 Boss to be in charge.  SE
  • 1 lawyer.
  • 4 people to keep the lawyer out of the way and in his closet.
  • 2 folks to direct updating the BSH every 5 years and merit badge pamphlets as needed.  (Direct: as in soliciting informed volunteers to get together and provide experienced input from boots on the ground.)
  • 1 person in charge of Philmont
  • 1 person in charge of Seabase
  • 1 person in charge of Northern Tier.
  • 1 person in charge of renting out Summit.
  • 1 person helping the less famous HA venues.
  • 2 people ordering uniforms and badges for the Scout Shops.
  • 1 person to refer fund raising offers/donations to the appropriate local councils/ districts.
  • 1 person to answer the phone and forward eMails.
  • 1 ombudsman to make sure that every BSA decision is aimed at getting boys/girls into the Outdoors to experience Nature.
  • 1 expert to answer local questions and augment real world experience into National best practice.
  • 1 person to sweep, empty the trash, and turn out the lights.

Fee increase?  Shucks; we can reduce fees and deliver an better program.

And have fewer assets for money grubbing lawyers to target...

You are way too generous.

  • Don't need a lawyer because everyone will like us.
  • We don't need any of them new fangled high adventure bases.  There's an old camp down by the river - give the boys some twine and a tarp.
  • Merit badge updates - the ones we have are fine, we don't need updates
  • Uniforms - we can get some American made military surplus stuff for real cheap.
  • Ombudsman - don't need one of those - we'll just hire trustworthy folks.
  • Someone to handle donations - nope, leave that to the units.
  • Phone calls/emails - that's why we pay the SE.
  • Someone to sweep the floors - again - that's why we pay the SE.

So, I think all you really need is:

  • 1 Boss to be in charge.  SE
  • 1 expert to answer local questions and augment real world experience into National best practice.

Done.

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Liability:  Tightening implementation of YP practices and finally 100% enforcing YPT Training.  Better and continuous records checking for criminal and family agency matters.  Getting ready to file for Ch. 11 so we can finally pay deserving victims and no longer live under a threat that the next suit will ruin us.  Financial:  Disbanding financial train-wreck councils and putting that territory into those Councils run by responsible volunteers.  Charging fees that recover costs.  Downsizing staff not serving units.  Membership:  doing away with catastrophic and non-enforced  "don't ask don't tell" policy.  Adding all-girl troops and dens (demanded for decades by Scouters and others -- including SMs I met as a camp staffer in the 70's.  Program:  Going back to the Green Bar Bill way of doing things.  Pushing executives into unit-serving positions in the field or getting rid of them.   Yes, a lot I happened in the last 3 or 4 years. I could go on for hours.

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24 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

Liability:  Tightening implementation of YP practices and finally 100% enforcing YPT Training.  Better and continuous records checking for criminal and family agency matters.  Getting ready to file for Ch. 11 so we can finally pay deserving victims and no longer live under a threat that the next suit will ruin us.  Financial:  Disbanding financial train-wreck councils and putting that territory into those Councils run by responsible volunteers.  Charging fees that recover costs.  Downsizing staff not serving units.  Membership:  doing away with catastrophic and non-enforced  "don't ask don't tell" policy.  Adding all-girl troops and dens (demanded for decades by Scouters and others -- including SMs I met as a camp staffer in the 70's.  Program:  Going back to the Green Bar Bill way of doing things.  Pushing executives into unit-serving positions in the field or getting rid of them.   Yes, a lot I happened in the last 3 or 4 years. I could go on for hours.

@Cburkhardt, thank you, much appreciated.  In all seriousness, this is the best summary of the BSA I've read in a long time. 

Edited by desertrat77

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